Kennedy Center hosts all-star birthday concert for jazz legend Charles Lloyd

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

Bang-up birthday celebrations and the Kennedy Center seem to go hand in hand.

And when the honoree is legendary jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd marking his 75th year of life, it is a sure bet the stars come out to play.

Lloyd parties in the Concert Hall on Friday evening with a veritable who's who of American jazz and world music, such as Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, bassist Reuben Rogers, Greek lyricist Sokratis Sinopoulos, drummer Eric Harland, vocalist Alicia Hall Moran and the legendary Greek vocalist Maria Farantouri.

Lloyd, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., and began saxophone lessons at age 9, recalls that the most memorable moment in his long career was "meeting Maria Farantouri in my hometown of Santa Barbara ... and then performing with her 10 years later at the foot of the Acropolis in Herodion [in Greece]."

If you go
Charles Lloyd Birthday Celebration
» Where: Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW
» When: 8 p.m. Friday
» Info: $20 to $65; 800-444-1324; kennedy-center.org

"Music is my life -- and when you love music, you love a lot of it," he explained. "I come from a jazz and blues tradition, but I am drawn to music around the world."

Back home, Lloyd is no stranger to playing with the creme de la creme of musical artists. He's performed with B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderley and the Beach Boys, to name a few. Jazz Times has noted that his music "is a rare, enduring balance of sophistication and accessibility."

Indeed, 50 years after his first release as a band leader, he is still making critically acclaimed recordings, such as "Athens Concert" with Farantouri and his most recent album, "Hagar's Song," with Jason Moran, on which one critic found the two "at their most curious and deeply attentive best."

Lloyd's concert celebration Friday will feature music with his quartet, which includes Moran, along with Indian tabla music lead by Hussain. His quartet also performs with Farantouri, whom Lloyd calls "a modern wonder rising up from the ruins of civilization." Finally they will all perform Byzantine hymns, among other songs recorded on their "Athens Concert."

"We welcome all music lovers to our concert at the Kennedy Center," Lloyd said. "It will be a globally unique gathering of international treasures."

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